125 Car Pile-up on Georgia Interstate 75.
March 15, 2002 8:59 AM   Subscribe

125 Car Pile-up on Georgia Interstate 75. This is the second time my neck of the woods (literally the neck of the woods!) has been in the news. With 125 vehicles involved, I think this might be the largest wreck in US history. Thankfully, only 4 people were killed, considering it happened during the morning rush to get everyone's kids to school.
posted by mcsweetie (23 comments total)
> Authorities said heavy fog blanketed the highway,
> reducing visibility to less than 20 feet at the time of the
> crash.

But, I'll bet my right arm, everybody kept right on driving 70-80mph bumper-to-bumper anyway. Dangerous eeedjits.

I moved out of Atlanta 20 years ago (to Athens, about 70 miles east) and hadn't seen it all that time until recently when my present job started sending me back over thataway for various sorts of training. Having now experienced firsthand the changes in the driving environment in A, especially freeway but actually any sort of driving, I'm frankly surprised there aren't daily road-rage shootings.

I presently live 10 minutes from my Athens job (on foot.)
posted by jfuller at 9:49 AM on March 15, 2002

The coverage over at chattanoogan.com is way better than the horrid FOX station.

I worked the victim information line for the BIG hospital in the area and I received about 50 calls in a short amount of time. Had to update websites and send out Press Release and we got calls from around the county. All of the local hospitals had been prepairing for a disaster, and this put those test in use. I think we did really well and the others seemed to have a good plan as well.

There was a lot of news coming out of there, but the Chattanoogan.com stories are more in-depth.
posted by mkelley at 10:14 AM on March 15, 2002

I read something that said that on this Interstate 75 near Georgia there are lots and lots of big 18 wheeler trucks...
wish we could get a breakdown of how many cars, trucks and 18 wheelers there were.

Heheh, in the second link the funeral home guy, I bet he's thinking "Damn, massive car wrecks... woulda been good for business!"
posted by Keen at 10:17 AM on March 15, 2002

jfuller, your arm's safe. Here's a story from a guy involved where he says he was going 70mph but could only see 15 yards. He crested a hill and slammed into the mess. When he stopped, a young woman in the car next to him was dead. "He might have hit her car; he wasn't sure."

The fog yesterday morning during my drive into Athens was worse than this -- I could only see a few feet at times. I can't even imagine driving 70mph through that. How he could, I have no idea.
posted by ewagoner at 10:32 AM on March 15, 2002

ewagoner: my wife's from GA, and she shrugged that most Georgians just don't know how to drive in fog and snow. Give them a big storm, and they're fine. Drivers' ed in GA is pretty much nonexistant, as well. My one memory of the drive from Chatanooga to Atlanta, many years ago, was that the stretch of road wasn't too well lit, either.
posted by quirkafleeg at 10:50 AM on March 15, 2002

Can we sue Canada for exporting these cold air masses that cause all the fog? It certainly isn't the fault of Georgia, because everybody knows it's humid here.

Seriously, though -- on long drives in the mountains, I came across devices that registered if fog was present in the valley, and would light signs well in advance. I wonder if NW Georgia and SE Tennessee will consider a joint project to warn about the risks of random fogbanks?
posted by dwivian at 10:54 AM on March 15, 2002

Can we sue Canada...?

I doubt it, but I do wonder who they're going to arrest.
posted by markpasc at 12:36 PM on March 15, 2002

I was in the Athens, GA, area over Christmas (my in-laws live in Danielsville), and we drove through Atlanta one afternoon (to visit more relatives) at around 2:00. As we sat in eight lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, I remember breathing a sigh of relief that I didn't have to drive in *that* every day.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:46 PM on March 15, 2002

Not to show disrespect for those who have lost their lives or are injured, but as an attorney who does a fair amount of auto work in New York, the implications of this accident are mind-boggling: the depositions; court conferences, etc. Truly entertaining (to the extent civil procedure can ever be).
posted by ParisParamus at 12:49 PM on March 15, 2002

P.S.: from the picture I saw in the paper, this location looks like a pretty densely populated, traffic'd area, and yet the guard rails look kind of flimsy. So suing Georgia for defective road design might be fruitful. Also, at least in these parts, in most cases, if you rear-end another vehicle, it's your fault. That rule will apply to a lot of the people involved in the accident. At least it would in NY.

Gee, My dream is to develop LawsandFound.com for this kind of discussion. Never thought I'd be writing this on Mefi!
posted by ParisParamus at 12:55 PM on March 15, 2002

People here in DC complain about traffic jams, wild drivers, etc., but I've lived in Atlanta, too, and it's insane there. I remember a comedian saying "Yeah, you can drive 55 on the beltway...if you have a ramp on the back of your car." I, too, have been in those 8-lane (on a side) traffic jams, 2 pm on a Saturday. Insane.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:43 PM on March 15, 2002

> Also, at least in these parts, in most cases, if you rear-
> end another vehicle, it's your fault.

That's the way it reads in GA. I have no problem with this particular law at all; there's utterly no reason to rear-end anybody. In can't-see-your-fingers fog like this I wouldn't get on the highway at all. And if the fog rolled in while I was between exits I'd get as far over on the grass as possible and stop, preferably just on the far side of an overpass where I could put a bridge abutment between me and the oncoming hoardes.
posted by jfuller at 1:53 PM on March 15, 2002

I live here in Atlanta and the drivers here are crazy. Everybody is in a hurry and everbody needs to be in front of you no matter what!!!! Rain or snow does not matter they drive as fast as possible and you rarely see any cops.

Also did you know that in Atlanta if you are at the DMV to take your drivers test and it starts to rain they cancel the test?!?!?
posted by bas67 at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2002

mcsweetie, you may be right -- a crash last year in Virginia was said to be a tie for the national record at just 117 cars.

I'll say this about Atlanta. Hands-down, the most beautiful women in the country. Peaches & cream. I mean, they glow or something. Wherever you go there seem to be hundreds of them just walking around, always snazzily dressed.

Oh. Well, actually, I'll say this about Atlanta: worst roads, worst drivers. They have all these new suburbs twisted and turned into the hills with curvy and clogged suburban arteries. They're just north enough that they can get freezing rain and sometimes snow. And when that happens, stay the hell home because nobody knows how to drive on the stuff. (Frankly, people in Chicago seem to be forgetting, too, so don't take it too personally. Or maybe everybody's moved up here from down South.) I worked down there temporarily a couple of times and we could look down and see the accidents. There were two in the same location one morning.
posted by dhartung at 2:13 PM on March 15, 2002

I'll say this about Atlanta. Hands-down, the most beautiful women in the country. Peaches & cream. I mean, they glow or something.

I noticed that too, the one time I visited, but a friend I was with put it down to superior makeup application skills.
posted by kindall at 4:24 PM on March 15, 2002

ewagoner: my wife's from GA, and she shrugged that most Georgians just don't know how to drive in fog and snow
Um, people in atlanta don't know how to drive PERIOD. we have the WORST drivers. My dad's been all over the country, and says we easily have the worse drive. I also like in Athens now and the highway 316 to get there SUCKS. People going 70mph+ with traffic lights in NOT a good combination.
Oh, and if you want beautiful women, they only get get at UGA!
posted by jmd82 at 9:27 PM on March 15, 2002

Everyone keeps talking about the traffic in Atlanta, but this was about 1 and a half hours north in a rural area that just happens to have a freeway near by. The normal traffic in the area is that of a small metro area, but this area was just normal traffic and nowhere near what Atlanta is at 8am.

News came out today that it was 86 vehicles instead of the 117.
posted by mkelley at 9:40 PM on March 15, 2002

GA drivers don't know how to drive? tell me about it...there was another bad wreck on I-75 today about 10-15 miles north of this one. a tractor trailer rear ended another one, this time without the help of any fog. it was by no means as bad as this one, but nonetheless not a drop of good came from it. no siree!
posted by mcsweetie at 10:52 PM on March 15, 2002

Can some one tell me if this wreck happened anywhere near that ...I think... huge paper factory? I remember seeing a NOVA a few years ago, describing a huge multicar wreck due to fog right down there near Chattanooga, and how steam escaping from those huge smoke stacks just off the highway was either partially or completely to blame for the fog.
posted by crunchland at 5:32 AM on March 16, 2002

the latest accident happened about 45 minutes south of where the 1990 Bowater accident happened. The State of Tennessee installed this huge fog warning system near the Bowater paper plant to keep this type of thing from happening. The lastest accident wasn't near that type of plant, it was just nature.

HEY HEY HEY...the lastest accident was in Tennessee :) . So you know where the 24/75 split is? This accident happened right at the split, where some trucker missed his turnoff and decided to go over a few lanes, at the least normally cutting people off...this time he just caused an accident.

Not to slam truckers, but they cause more accidents in the area. A tractor trailer turns over in the split at least once every month, becase the trucks are going way too fast in a very sharp curve.
posted by mkelley at 6:45 AM on March 16, 2002

That's the way it reads in GA. I have no problem with this particular law at all; there's utterly no reason to rear-end anybody.

Unless the person in front is looking to be rear-ended, so that he can sue you. I know that it's happened back home, from lawyer friends: all too easy to claim whiplash injury, and people will sooner settle than run the risk of going to court. Huge fraud rings do it, with crooked lawyers in on the scam.
posted by quirkafleeg at 7:56 AM on March 16, 2002

No, there is no reason to rear-end anybody. It is your responsibility to maintain a safe stopping distance between you and the car in front of you. Always.

I strongly recommend that everyone here go out and take a motorcycle rider training course this spring. Not only is it more fun than sex (well, almost, anyway), it will cause the most amazing change in your driving habits. You will become a far, far safer driver.

And if you don't take a MRT course, at least listen to this: do not ever tailgate a motorcycle. They can and will stop one helluva lot faster than you. Get the fuck away from them.

When you're making a turn, please get your brain to start recognizing motorcycles. "I didn't see him" is the common excuse for killing a motorcyclist. When you change lanes, please shoulder-check.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 AM on March 16, 2002

HEY HEY HEY...the lastest accident was in Tennessee :)

oops! well, I'm sure at least one maleficent GA driver was involved.

and speaking of maleficent GA drivers, last night I smashed my right side mirror into a mailbox whilst simultaneously changing CD's and dodging a 'possum. double oops! and I ever went took private driving classes. X|
posted by mcsweetie at 9:47 AM on March 16, 2002

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